The Operation Christmas Child discipleship program is starting hundreds of thousands of boys and girls on their journey to salvation
Ravi* had prayed for two years that his family, friends, and neighbors would come to know the saving grace of Jesus. He and about 60 other children in their South Asian village had been meeting to study the Bible, but they had very few resources and a limited knowledge of their faith.
Everything changed when a group of Christian leaders in South Asia, a predominately Hindu region, heard of their need.
The leaders were part of the local Operation Christmas Child team. They had some shoebox gifts remaining after a distribution at a nearby community. They decided to send them to Ravi’s village, even though it wasn’t part of their schedule.
Ravi and his friends received their shoeboxes and then enrolled in The Greatest Journey, the follow-up discipleship program used by Samaritan’s Purse to help children become faithful followers of Jesus Christ.
Through the 12-lesson course, they learned about salvation through Jesus, how to live out their faith, and how to share the Good News with their family and friends. Ravi’s longing for the salvation of others in the village quickly spread to his friends. In a short time, the entire community began to experience the power of God.
Soon after they started the lessons, two of the children in the class became seriously ill. The other members of the class began to pray, and after five hours of fervent prayer the two children were well. When they shared what the Lord had done for them with the village residents, an entire family accepted Christ and was baptized.
The village is being transformed by the power of the Gospel, and more and more people are accepting Christ. The children graduated from The Greatest Journey on Christmas Day, and on New Year’s Day 44 people were baptized after coming to salvation. The residents continue to spread the Gospel to neighboring villages, sharing the Good News that they received.
“The Lord is working wonderfully in this village,” said one of the local Operation Christmas Child leaders. “God already had plans to reach this village, and [this] was one of the channels used by Him.”
The Greatest Journey, in conjunction with shoebox gifts, is helping to spread the Gospel throughout communities even in the world’s hardest to reach areas, where previous attempts to share the news of Jesus Christ have often been met with closed doors and life-threatening violence. Since the discipleship program was first implemented by Samaritan’s Purse in 2009, more than 74 countries have had the opportunity to offer the Bible lessons in their own languages. Over one million children have graduated, and more than 650,000 have indicated that they decided to follow Jesus.
There are many opportunities to get involved with providing The Greatest Journey lessons to children around the world, from sponsoring one child for $6, to sponsoring a church for $600, or even an entire community for $6,000. Click here for more information about sending these important lessons to children who are eager to start their journey to learn about Jesus, and graduate into the promise of salvation.
Some planted seeds of the Gospel by packing shoeboxes and sending The Greatest Journey lessons, and some watered those seeds by sharing the message of God’s love with shoebox recipients. Now, God is growing each seed into a great harvest.
“I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:6-7, ESV).
(*name changed for security reasons)